RUNNING a sports club in lockdown is an unenviable task. Launching a new one, even more so.

Yet the latter is just the task that York City Knights supporter Stuart Morris has taken up through his creation of the Harrogate Fire Ants.

Despite being located in one of the heartlands of the sport, the town has not had a rugby league club in around 30 years.

That is until now.

The idea came to Morris, who is a founding member of the Harrogate York Knights Supporters Club, when scrolling through one of the rugby league forums.

“Looking on the forums, someone mentioned that Harrogate was so close to heartlands of rugby league but it doesn’t have a club” said the club’s chairman.

“And, it just it went from there really.

“I did some digging and found that there was a team in the 1980s and 1990s and there is a team in Wetherby that has been established for quite a while.

“But around Harrogate and Knaresborough, there’s not been a side for a number of years.

“We just ran with it, putting out the word of the brand, which has been a big focus for us.”

“One of first things I did was create our social media channels – on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

“We launched our website too, which has been really promising.”

Part of the aforementioned “brand” being created by the club mainly revolves around their unique Fire Ants moniker.

As far as Morris can gather, the nearest other club with the Fire Ants nickname are situated almost 10,000 miles away.

“We only share the Fire Ants name with one other team, that I’ve located, that’s a team in Port Vila in Vanuatu,” continued Morris.

“And, I’ve already had some good contact with them actually.

“The ground that we’ve got marked down is next to Harrogate Railway FC.

“I began doing some research into why their logo was a beaver and then as a random project I began looking at other things in nature that we could associate ourselves with.

“Then, somehow, I had a random week of looking up Ants and all types of different species. That’s how we ended up with the Fire Ants.

“It brings in our colours and logo and the ethos around the club.”

Bringing a new club to life while in lockdown has been a challenge. Though for Morris, he’s been able to focus on putting into place the foundations of the club for whenever they are able to fully launch when normality does resume.

He said: “In a sense its been good because we’ve been able to put all of the off-field stuff into place.

“We’re developing a strong brand and a unique selling point.

“In regards to playing numbers, we’ve got lots of people who just want to get started.

“We’ve got the kit coming out, we’ve got merchandise, we’re looking at NHS shirts as well.

“We’ve been able to do a lot in this period.”

Morris is also having to balance his day job in IT with the establishing of the club.

He explained: “I work from home easily enough and then in the evenings I’ve been controlling our website, social media channels and contacting people that had been contacting me throughout the day.

“Lockdown is the perfect time to do all of the paperwork and policy documents.

“The buzz on social media too has been really exciting, so there’s no complaints from me at all.

“I’m really looking forward to getting going with it.”

As for when that first game will be, that is, like all amateur sport, largely dependant on when lockdown ends.

“A lot depends on how long we remain in lockdown,” Morris added. “I’ve been doing research on some clubs that are currently up and running in the league’s that we’re likely to be entering.

“Speaking to our committee, we’re looking at the Yorkshire Men’s League, which would be our first step.

“The question is whether that would be in 2021 or 2022.

“And, if we can get any friendly games in this year, that’s dependant on the current situation.

“It’s more than likely going to be 2022, I would have thought.

“That would give us a season to play a few (friendly) games, get our structure right and get everything in place and go into our first season properly.

“If we can do that then hopefully we’ll be successful and be running for a long time.”

Plans are already afoot for the club’s first friendly match though.

“When we launch the club properly, our first game is due to be against Bath Rugby League as part of the Spa Cup,” Morris revealed.

“As part of that, we’re looking to have a gala and make it family day as well as local businesses down there too.

“There’s plenty of opportunities to get the whole club out there and we feel like we can do that.”